Where do you go to find social media tips, statistics, trends, and best practices? I recently attended the Social Media for Savvy Marketers event hosted by Cisco featuring speakers from Twitter, SAP, Adobe, BuzzFeed, Salesforce.com, Percolate, and more. The two-day event brought candid conversations, interactive panel sessions, and an engaging way to learn how B2B and B2C brands are using social. When else can you hear from industry experts on the hottest trends in social media and learn best practices to leverage for your next social media campaign? If you missed out on this thought provoking event, below are my takeaways from the event.

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5 Tips to Becoming a “Savvy” Social Media Marketer:

Tip #1: A Social Business Starts with your Executives: According to a social media statistic from eMarketer, “82% of employees say they trust a company more when CEO and leadership teams are involved in social.” Jeanette Gibson, Senior Director, Global Social Media Marketing at Cisco, shared that Cisco placed a monitor including a Twitter feed outside of CEO John Chamber’s office, showing the importance of the customer conversation. This was the first step Cisco made in transforming to a social business.  Additionally, Gibson noted, “Help your business to be S.O.C.I.A.L.: Scalable, Open, Consistent, Intuitive, Active, and Limitless”, showcasing the social conversation highlights of what is being said about your brand. The conversation is happening across channels and brands shouldn’t miss out.

Tip #2: Listening is the First Step of a Social Strategy: At each stage of a social media strategy, listening is critical. Before jumping into any conversation, we must pay attention to what is being said and then engage accordingly with that particular audience.  LaSandra Brill, Manager, Global Social Media Marketing at Cisco, shared the significance of listening as she discussed the importance of Social CRM. Brill noted that “85% of Tech buyers engage in some form of social activity.” Listening to what your customers are saying and are interested in allows for targeted offers to be sent to customers increasing the propensity to buy. Note: be sure to be clever vs. creepy with the targeted offers.

Tip #3: Content is King and Distribution is Queen: Creating good “snackable” content is critical to increasing the reach of the conversation. Video is quickly becoming the next generation of content as it is fun and engaging.  Matt Rozen, Group Manager Corporate Social Media of Adobe, shared his thoughts, “the best part of video is the measurable traffic. Video was just 10% of impressions, but drove 50% of site visits.” Content can engage an audience and keep them active in the conversation. On day two of the event, James Gross, Co-Founder of Percolate, advised “If we reshape how we create content, we will shift from renting audience to owning it.” Ultimately, I think Jonathan Perelman, VP Agency Strategy & Industry Development at Buzzfeed, summed up the idea of content most eloquently, “Content is King and distribution is queen.” Create great content and then let your fans share it. Once you have this great content, don’t forget to integrate search: include keywords, hashtags, and tagging!

Tip #4: Social Media is About Extending the Conversation: Gone are the days of a simple flat advertisement. Brands are integrating their campaigns across media and social channels. In the example of TV advertisements, brands are engaging more with hashtags creating a mulit-screen experience. Robert Pietsch, Director of Sales at Twitter, noted, “Before it was just a TV spot and we’d hope for a word of mouth campaign, now we focus on joining the conversation, giving customers more.” I’m sure you’ve experienced the power of the #hashtag while watching TV advertisements. Extend your brands conversation across channels and screens.  This continued engagement can bring brand loyalty with your fans and followers. Constant connection with real-time engagement can turn fans into brand influencers.

Tip #5: Gamification: The concept of gamification has increased in popularity across brands. Gamification centers around the participant’s moment of achievement and rewards a behavior. Caroline Dangson, Producer at Badgeville, shared that, “gaming can come in different forms.” Find out what motivates your audience to build out your gaming structure. Cisco has integrated gamification principles internally to motivate participation in their social media training program. The training program was built to align with the business objective of increasing internal social brand advocates. Cisco rewards and recognizes training progress through badges and certifications for participant milestones and interactions. Who wouldn’t want to be recognized by their management?

Being a “Social Savvy” marketer is an ongoing process. No matter the generation, social media is utilized in some form and will continue to evolve. How are brands keeping up with this ever-changing world of social? Lisa Willett, Vice President Digital Sales at ABC, noted, “ABC stays current with monthly training sessions keeping teams engaged and rewarding those who stay in the conversation.” Are you ready to take the next steps to enhance your social media skill set and keep current on social media best practices? Let’s keep the information-sharing going. Post your social media tips and best practice recommendations for Social Media Marketers. I’m interested in your feedback!

And check out the Cisco Social Media Training Program for the opportunity to learn social media best practices and strategies that you can implement within your own organization.